IBM creates amazing atomic-level hard drive

If you think a 1TB flash drive is impressive, IBM is about to do you one better. The computing giant announced yesterday that it was able to store one bit of data on the world's smallest storage drive — one 6 atoms long by 2 atoms wide.

Current hard drives use about a million atoms to store a bit of data. The IBM breakthrough allowed researchers to store that same bit of data on 12 atoms of iron using a scanning tunneling microscope. This breakthrough suggests researchers are fast approaching a theoretical maximum size for hard drives.

Don't expect these types of atomic hard drives to appear on store shelves just yet — devices that use this technology could still be five to 10 years off, researchers say. Part of the issue is that IBM's creation operates reliably only at extremely low temperatures. At a temperature of only 5 Kelvin (â€Â"451°F), the atoms used have too much thermal energy to reliably hold data.

This is far from the first bit of research IBM has done into hard drive technology. Last year, the company was building a the world's largest hard drive, a device that clocked in around 120 million GB.

This article was written by Fox Van Allen and originally appeared on Tecca

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